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Carpenter Falls Unique Area

Carpenter Falls Unique Area locator map

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The 37-acre Carpenter Falls Unique Area was created for the purposes of recreation and watershed protection. Upper Carpenter Falls is located in the southernmost portion of the property, just off of Appletree Point Road. Lower Carpenter Falls is located in the northernmost portion of the property.

In summer 2022, DEC completed an exciting project to improve public access to Carpenter Falls and reduce long-term environmental impacts to the area. The project centered on incorporating accessibility features to offer safe and equitable access to all site visitors. New site features include an elevated boardwalk and observation platform; a bicycle rack for cyclists; and stone stairs to the base of the Upper Falls.

The new elevated boardwalk and viewing platform are constructed to be accessible to people with disabilities, allowing all visitors the opportunity to traverse through the forest to view this spectacular waterfall.

DEC asks you to help protect the sensitive natural resources and reduce conflicts with other users. Please:

  • No swimming or bathing
  • Stay on designated trails at all times
  • No camping
  • No use of fire, including for heating or cooking
  • Safely restrain dogs at all times
  • No bicycles, skateboards, or inline skates on the boardwalk or trails
  • No horseback riding
Waterfall and trees

Featured Activities



General information on hiking includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

There is a 0.59-mile trail that runs across the length of the property providing scenic views of Bear Swamp Creek and two sets of waterfalls. The upper falls are located at the southwest end of the trail and the lower falls are located at the northeasterly end of the hiking trail. This trail also connects with the adjacent Bahar Preserve (leaves DEC website), which is managed by the Finger Lake Land Trust (leaves DEC website), and provides access to an additional 1.6 miles of trails and access to a picturesque waterfall.



General information on snowshoeing includes how-to, safety tips, and links to rules and regulations.

Snowshoeing is permitted on all hiking trails.


General information on animals includes links to information about birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, amphibians and insects that inhabit or migrate through the state.

Accessible Features

General information on accessible recreation includes links to other locations with accessible recreation opportunities and information on permits for motorized access.

The elevated boardwalk and viewing platform are constructed to be accessible to people with disabilities, allowing all visitors the opportunity to traverse through the forest to view this spectacular waterfall. There is also accessible parking available.


From Skaneateles: Head south on State Route 41A for 11.15 miles and then take a left onto Appletree Point Road. Continue on Appletree Point Road for 0.5 miles. The paved parking area is located on Appletree Point Road near the intersection of Carver Road. Roadside parking is prohibited.

  • Carpenter Falls parking area (20 car capacity, 2 accessible) (42.8132858°N, 76.3415527°W) Google Maps (leaves DEC website)

All coordinates provided are in decimal degrees using NAD83/WGS84 datum.

Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Practice Leave No Trace Principles (leaves DEC website) when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly, minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts with other users.

All users of Carpenter Falls Unique Area must follow all State Land Use Regulations and should follow all Outdoor Safety Practices for the safety of the user and protection of the resource.

How We Manage Carpenter Falls Unique Area

DEC manages these lands in accordance with the management activities described in the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan (UMP). In addition to management objectives, the UMP contains detailed information on natural features, recreational infrastructure, geology, natural and human history, habitats, wildlife, fisheries and much more.

If you have questions and/or comments about this UMP, please email

In February 2023, Carpenter Falls (leaves DEC website) and the adjoining Finger Lakes Land Trust's Bahar Nature Preserve (leaves DEC website) shared the honor of induction into the Old-Growth Forest Network, representing Cayuga County. The contiguous properties together protect over 6,420 feet along Bear Swamp Creek, which flows through a dramatic 100-foot-deep gorge on its way to Skaneateles Lake. The forest within the gorge harbors Eastern hemlock, red oak, giant tulip trees, and very large oaks well over 100 years old. Together, the properties form a 90-acre retreat with a 1.6-mile trail that leads visitors through a stunning forest with impressive views and plunging waterfalls.

To maintain the unique, deep-shade forest habitat that hemlocks provide, emblematic of many gorges in the Finger Lakes region, both DEC and the Finger Lakes Land Trust are treating the most ecologically important trees to protect against further infestation of the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.

Nearby State Lands, Facilities, Amenities & Other Information

State Lands and Facilities

Where to Find Nearby Amenities

  • Gas, dining opportunities, lodging, food and other supplies can be found in the nearby communities of Moravia, Skaneateles, and Auburn.

Finger Lakes tourism and Tour Cayuga (leaves DEC website) can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.

Numerous guidebooks and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores and online booksellers.

Additional information, outdoor equipment, trip suggestions and guided or self-guided tours may be obtained from outdoor guide and outfitting businesses. Check area chambers of commerce, telephone directories or search the internet for listings.

Consider hiring an outdoor guide if you have little experience or woodland skills. See the NYS Outdoor Guides Association (leaves DEC website) for information on outdoor guides.